Defense Carries Western Illinois Men To Win

KANSAS CITY, MO – Desperate for a win, the Western Illinois men’s basketball team leaned on the defense, earning a hard-fought 60-52 victory over Kansas City on Saturday. The 52 points was the fewest allowed by the Leathernecks against a Division I opponent since topping St. Thomas 81-52 on Jan. 21, 2022. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak against the Roos, gave WIU its first road victory in the Summit League this season and improved Western Illinois’ record to 10-8 overall and 3-4 in the Summit.

Western Illinois led for 33 minutes, 36 seconds and only trailed for 3:56 against the Roos, holding an advantage as large as 13 (23-10) at the 7:56 mark of the first half.

Both teams had a slow start to the game as the defense dominated throughout. But Western Illinois was to take a 29-25 lead into half behind Vuk Stevanic’s seven first-half points.

In the second half, Western Illinois’ defense continued to lock down on Kansas City, holding the Roos to 10-39 from the field (25.6 percent) and 1-15 (6.7 percent) from three. For the game, KC went 21-67 (31.3 percent) from the floor and 3-25 (12 percent) from three.

Another key stat was the boards, a spot where WIU outrebounded Kansas City, 40-39. KJ Lee led the way, tying a personal season high with a team-high 10 rebounds.

Trenton Massner led the scoring, finishing with 19 points. Stevanic finished with 11 while Alec Rosner had 10. Stevanic also tied a season high, dishing out five assists. Jesiah West added seven points and nine rebounds while Lee scored six and had a team-high two blocks.

After a slow start to the game saw the Leathernecks trail 6-2 early, WIU was able to get going, letting the defense fuel a 21-4 run that put Western ahead 23-10. Kansas City was able to chip away, cutting the Western advantage to 29-25 at halftime.

Kansas City scored the first four points of the second half to tie the game at 29, but the Leathernecks went on a 9-2 run, taking a 38-31 lead. It was the last time KC was even with the Leathernecks. Four different Leathernecks scored during the mini run.

Western Illinois went 20-50 (40 percent) from the floor, 5-17 (29.4 percent) from three.

The Leathernecks now have a week off before hosting St. Thomas next Saturday at 2 p.m. The game against the Tommies is the first of a four-game homestand.

Copy provided by Western Athletic Communications

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